Lions baseball starts new season

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Junior outfielder Mike Taylor, right, celebrates with junior catcher Evan Pace, left, after reaching the home plate. Prakriti Adhikari/The Lion's Roar

In their season opening three-game series against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville this past weekend, the Lions baseball team gained two victories while falling short in their final match at the Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field.

The Lions encountered an 11-2 win on Friday, 13-6 win on Saturday, and had to face a 7-4 loss on Sunday, missing the opportunity to complete the sweep.

The Lions missed the chance to capitalize on a one-run lead in the ninth inning of the third game as the error proved costly, allowing SIU-Edwardsville to rally for a victory.

Associate head coach Daniel Latham was happy with the team’s effort despite losing the final game.

“I thought, no matter what happened today, the guys kept getting themselves in a position to win, and kept giving us an opportunity, and that’s about all you can ask for,” said Latham. “As a team, I thought we were good. Some guys are still trying to work their way through some things. But I thought, as a unit, the team was good overall.”

Senior outfielder Drew Avans believes the team is prepared for the season.

“We are ready to compete,” said Avans. “There’s nothing we cannot accomplish. Didn’t bounce our way this time, but our team competes and that’s what we do.”

Latham thought the matches were important to give the team a good start to the season.

“It is important to try to get yourself off to a good start,” said Latham. “As the season goes on, you’re going into the season with more questions than answers. I think we have answered some of those questions over the last three games. We’ve still got some of the questions we need to answer going forward. A lot of teaching points, a lot of things we need to clean up over the next few weeks.”

Avans shared that the team’s strategy is to be aggressive throughout the season.

“Our offense creates a lot of havoc,” said Avans. “So, we just need to stay aggressive and compete in every pitch.”

Latham believes repeating what worked in the past will help the team go further in the season.

“We are gonna stick for what worked for us in the last few years,” said Latham. “On the matter of teaching these guys how to play, the speed we want to play, trying to speed the game up, run the bases, do all the little things right, which for the most part, we’ve done so far. But we got to continue doing that.”

Junior outfielder Mike Taylor believes the team has to let go of the frustrations to thrive in the upcoming games.

“You just forget this loss right here,” said Taylor. “You just take all your frustrations and anger, make sure you calm down and come out and play your best.”

On Sunday, the Alumni Field also witnessed a romantic proposal by junior sport management major Brody McDaniel to a member of Diamond Girls and junior accounting major Neely Corkern before the start of the game, which was responded with a “yes.”

The players were pleased with the crowd that came in to support them.

“It’s exhilarating,” said Avans. “We have a great fan base, followers all over the country. We just like to thank them every day that they come over here. Without them, there would be no energy in the sport.”

The Lions will return back to the field playing against Alcorn State University at home today at 6 p.m.

“It’s a fast turnaround,” said Latham. “It’s the beauty of baseball. Next game’s right around the corner. We are going to turn back around and keep doing punches.”

Junior accounting major Neely Corkern gets emotional after being proposed to by junior sports management major Brody McDaniel in the field before the start of the baseball game on Sunday. Prakriti Adhikari/The Lion's Roar